Jacques Henri Lartigue

Renée, Paris, janvier 1931. © Ministère de la Culture, France/AAJHL/All rights reserved



Jacques Henri Lartigue was 69 years old in 1963 when he first presented a selection of his many photographs taken throughout his life at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. That same year, there was a photo spread of his work in the famous Life Magazine issue commemorating the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. To his great surprise, Lartigue suddenly became one of the renowned photographers of the 20th century.
Lartigue learned about photography from his father as early as the year 1900. Henri Lartigue rewarded Jacques’s enthusiasm by buying him his first camera when he was 8 years old. Thus began the endless photographs of his childhood, including automobile outings, family holidays and especially his older brother Maurice’s inventions.
Both brothers were fascinated by cars, aviation, and all sports. Jacques’s camera captured each moment. As an adult, he continued to attend sporting events and to take part in elite sports such as skiing, skating, tennis and golf. However, ever mindful of the passage of time, he understood a snapshot cannot encompass all there is to say and to remember. He thus began keeping a journal and continued to do so his whole life.
Furthermore, he takes up drawing and painting. In 1915, he briefly attends the Julian Academy and thus painting became his main professional activity. From 1922 on, he exhibited his work in shows in Paris and in the south of France.
In the meantime, in 1919, Jacques married Madeleine Messager, the daughter of the composer André Messager, and their son Dani was born in 1921. Jacques and Madeleine divorced in 1931. 
He revelled in high society and luxury until the beginning of the 1930’s when the decline of the Lartigue fortune forced him to search for other sources of income. He refused, however, to take on a steady job and so he scarcely gets by with his painting during the ’30s and ’40s.
At the beginning of the 1950s, contrary to the legend that he was a complete unknown, his work as a photographer is noticed. In 1962, he met Charles Rado of the Rapho Agency, who in turn contacted John Szwarkoski, the young curator of MoMA’s photography department. There was all-around enthusiasm for his work.
The first retrospective was held at Paris’ “Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in 1975. One year earlier, Lartigue was commissioned by the President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to shoot an official portrait photograph. In 1979, a Donation Agreement was signed and Lartigue became the first living French photographer to donate his work to the nation. He authorized the Association des Amis de Jacques Henri Lartigue to preserve and promote the fund. He continued his work as a photographer, painter and writer until his death in Nice on September 12th 1986. He was 92 years old.

 He left us with more than 100,000 snapshots, 7,000 diary pages and 1,500 paintings.

Biography courtesy of Donation Jacques Henri Lartigue

selected solo exhibitions

2020  L’Invenzione della Felicità, Casa dei Tre Oci, Venice
2018  An invitation for Martine d’Astier… Discover (or rediscover?) Lartigue, Galerie du Jour – agnès b, Paris
2017  Lartigue, la vie en couleurs, Maison de René Char, l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France
2017  Jacques Henri Lartigue Photographer. Time rediscovered, The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, Milan
2017  A Floating World: Photographs by Jacques Henri Lartigue, Sang Sang Foundation, Seoul
2017  “Authentique primitif” / Rétrospective Jacques Henri Lartigue, Centre culturel André Malraux, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France
2017  Lartigue at 100, Festival Photolux, Lucca, Italy
2017  J.H. Lartigue, Capturing Moments of Joy, The Fukushima Prefectural Museum, Japan
2017  Lartigue à La Baule 1913-1929, Musée Bernard Boesch, La Baule, France
2017  Rivages, Villa Les Roches Brunes, Dinard, France
2017  Lartigue at 100, Museum of Photography, Hong Kong
2016  Lartigue et les autos, Salon Rétro mobile, Paris
2016  Chic, le sport, Galerie Photo-Cinéma de l’Institut Lumière, Lyon
2016  Jacques Henri Lartigue, créateur de bonheurs, Clair Gallery, Munich
2016  The Blink of an Eye, The Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
2016  Love, life… LARTIGUE, Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam
Life in Color, 51 Gallery, Anvers, Belgium
J.H. Lartigue, Capturing Moments of Joy, The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan
2016  Fast Cars and Femmes Fatales: the Photographs of J.H. Lartigue, Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh
2016  Lartigue, la vie en couleurs, Foam Museum, Amsterdam
2016  Images d’un monde flottant, Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image, Nice
2015  Amateur de Génie, Museo Ettore Fico, Turin
2015  La Côte d’Azur, Turku Art Museum, Türku, Finland
2015  Lartigue, la vie en couleurs, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
2015  Jacques Henri Lartigue, the World’s Great Amateur Photographer, Fuji Film Photo History Museum, Tokyo
2015  Lartigue père et fils, Château de la Messardière, Saint-Tropez
2015  J.H. Lartigue, d’air et d’eau, The Epoch Museum, Wen Zhou, China
2014  La Belle Epoque de Jacques Henri Lartigue, Domaine de Trévarez, Finistère, France
2014  A Vida em Movimento, Institut Moreira Salles, San Paolo
2014  Winter in Amsterdam, Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam
2014  Bibi, Photobiennale, Mosow, Russia
2014  Jacques Henri Lartigue (Photopoche), Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
2014  Lartigue a cent ans, Sala San Benito, Valladolid, Spain
2014  Ueda Shoji et Jacques Henri Lartigue : Play with Photography, Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo

selected GROUP exhibitions

2019  Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, California
2018  Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present, Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania
Autophoto, Fondation Cartier, Paris
2017  Stereoscopy, Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
2017  Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present, Brooklyn Museum;
Tampa Museum of Art, Florida; Olympic Museum, Lausanne
2017  Chic à la Montagne, Couvent Sainte Cécile / Fondation Glénat, Grenoble
2016  Tous à la plage, Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Paris
2016  Doisneau – Lartigue, un autre portrait du cheval, Le Pin-au-Haras, France
2016  Vieux monde, New-Look, la France d’Avedon, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
2015  Platinum : Master Prints from 31 Studio, The Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey, UK
2015  On the move, Kunst im VDA by CLAIR, Berlin
2015  We could be heroes, The Photographers Gallery, London
2015  Défilé Alpin : la Mode et la Montagne du 18e siècle à nos jours, Musée de Megève, France
2015  Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton, Grand palais, Paris
2014  Défilé Alpin : La Mode et la Montagne du 18e siècle à nos jours, La Châtaignière, Yvoire, France
2014  Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Château d’Estaing, France


2016  Lartigue, l’élégance photographique, Somogy, Paris
2016  Lartigue, un dandy à la plage, Carré/La Découverte, Paris
2015  Lartigue, Life in Colour, Éditions du Seuil, Paris
2013  A Sporting Life, Actes Sud, Arles
2010  Double je, Jacques Henri Lartigue, peintre et photographe, 1915-1939, Somogy, Paris
2010  Un mundo flotante, fotografias de Jacques Henri Lartigue, La Caixa Editions, Palma
2008  La Belle Époque, Photographs by Jacques Henri Lartigue, Beijing
2004  Lartigue ou le plaisir de la photographie, Somogy, Paris
2003  Lartigue, l’album d’une vie, Éditions du Seuil/Centre Pompidou, Paris
2002  Lartigue en hiver, Flammarion, Paris
1997  La Côte d’Azur de Jacques Henri Lartigue, Flammarion, Paris
1992  Le choix du bonheur de Jacques Henri Lartigue, Éditions la Manufacture/Association des Amis de Jacques Henri Lartigue